Stop Operation Meth Merchant! sign now

In northwest Georgia in July 2005, a dozen, mostly white, English-speaking informants convicted of possessing, producing, and selling an illegal drug called methamphetamine (meth) were promised reductions in their prison sentences if they assisted with successful prosecutions of store clerks from whom they bought the ingredients to create meth. Under Operation Meth Merchant, the name given by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agencys to the sting operation, forty-nine store clerks and shop owners, many of whom do not speak fluent English, were indicted for allegedly knowing that the products they were selling would be used to create methamphetamine.

The racial profiling of South Asians and prosecutorial blunders in Operation Meth Merchant (OMM) are outrageous. Even though the majority of convenience store owners in northwest Georgia are white, the prosecutions and informants specifically targeted the Indian community. Forty-four of the forty-nine people indicted are South Asian, and thirty-three of them have the last name Patel. At least one of the confidential informants used in OMM has a history of fraud convictions. A couple of the cases have been dropped because an informant obviously misidentified the store clerks.

Those indicted are not only facing up to 25 years in prison, forfeiture of their stores and fines of up to $250,000, they are also likely to be deported. U.S. immigration laws allow deportation of people convicted of drug-related crimes, despite their ties to the community, American-born children with U.S. citizenship, or long-time residency in this country. Operation Meth Merchant is tearing families apart and doing nothing to stop the meth problem in Georgia. Based on questionable evidence, these prosecutions follow an ongoing and long-time trend of targeting communities of color under the guise of the "War on Drugs".

The Asian American Convenience Store Association (AACSA), Communities United for Action, Power & Justice, Queer Progressive Agenda (QPA), Raksha, South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT), and the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) have formed a coalition called the Racial Justice Campaign Against Operation Meth Merchant to stop the unlawful and unjust prosecutions of South Asian convenience store owners in North Georgia.

By listing our name below, we support the Racial Justice Campaign Against Operation Meth Merchant in calling for government lawyers to drop the unfair, racially biased prosecutions of South Asian convenience store owners.

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Morgan MoraBy:
TelecommunicationsIn:
Petition target:
David Nahmias, U.S. Attorney's Office

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